Most years feel like they fly by, but as July rolls around, I know I am not alone in feeling worn out and exhausted.
Reflecting on the most stressful six months many of us have ever experienced, it’s also hard to believe we still have six more to go.
people2people’s workforce survey in April found 64% of career seeks were lacking motivation and engagement, and 50% were concerned for their mental wellbeing. These sorts of percentages are concerning, and burnout is a very real threat that both individuals and employers need to be aware of. So, what is burn out and how can we best protect ourselves to prevent it from happening?
Burnout was classified by the World Health Organisation in 2019 as an occupational phenomenon resulting from chronic workplace stress, where individuals experience depleted energy or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy. With the sudden transition to working from home, and the rapid changes in business operations, structures, and staffing sizes, lots of employees found themselves working harder, longer hours, and having less opportunity to separate themselves from the working day (for example, no commute).
Here are some tips to protect yourself:
1) Be self-aware: Although the pandemic has likely increased feelings of anxiety or depression, if you are feeling exhausted when it comes to doing work-related tasks, choosing to avoid the social Teams catch ups, becoming cynical or disappointed at decisions, and struggling to sleep because of work-related thoughts, then you could be starting to experience burnout.
2) Remain structured: In March, much of the advice was to ensure a structured day with clear lines between work and rest. But with the possibility that we’ll be working from home for the rest of the year, it’s important to ensure this structure continues. Create a routine, leave the house each day, and continue working on the hobbies you started during lockdown.
3) Practice self-care: Workaholics rarely do this but taking time to genuinely relax helps the brain slow down. Get outside for some beautiful Sydney winter sunshine, catch up with friends for a coffee (support local!), or plan a regional trip (if you feel safe) will create the break that you need.
4) Seek help: If you start thinking “something’s not quite right” and you persistently feel tired, anxious, or irritable then it may be time to seek professional help. Medicare is subsidising telehealth sessions, Beyond Blue has numerous online resources, and your organisation may provide an EAP.
A phrase repeated many times in the people2people office is “this too shall pass”, and it will. 2020 has been a shocking year, but one thing is loud and clear. We all need to be acutely aware of the signs and protect ourselves from burnout. Self-care is more important now than ever.